"You look bored to fucking tears," observes Alice.
"I'm not crying, and even if I were, I've never produced tears that talented," deadpans Bella. "Hello."
"So what's up?"
"If anything were up, would I be bored?" she says quizzically.
"I'll give you that," he concedes. "Whatcha gonna do about it?"
"Plan a weekend book-shopping trip in unreasonable detail, I think. I may be able to wrangle an invitation to come do my homework at Angela's house, and her brothers could be entertaining little critters, I won't know until I meet them. Why?"
"Well, I was gonna start thinking up suggestions, but I guess you're covered."
"If you have suggestions, by all means supply them. Expending limited social capital and slowly developing an obsessive personality disorder aren't exactly my entertainments of choice," says Bella, sitting up.
"Um... you could take a tour of my stupidly huge house, that'd probably burn a few hours," he says. "I'm gonna go out on a limb and say you're not a fan of climbing trees... pun not intended but totally hilarious and I don't regret it for a second."
"I am indeed not a fan of treeclimbing - your house, huh." Bella considers this. She reaches into her pocket for her notebook, and flips through it. She looks between it and Alice a few times. Then she opens up her phone and dials Charlie's number without completing the call yet. "I'm going to try an experiment," she says.
"...O...kaaay," says Alice, clearly lost.
Bella poises her thumb over the send button, looks Alice in the eye, and carefully pronounces the word, "Freak."
His mouth drops open in shock.
He blinks several times.
"Holy shit," he says in stunned tones, "I think you might actually be the perfect woman. Marry me."
Bella blinks, rereads her notes, draws a question mark next to the plus sign, puts the notebook away, and says, "Okay, I think it's probably safe for me to go to your house, but no on the marrying you."
"It's cool," he says, "I just haven't gone from zero to crush that fast since the first time I heard Freddie Mercury's voice. So, wanna come over?"
"Well," she says. "Will anyone else be home?"
"Dad will," he says, "I guarantee you. Probably Mom and Hilary, too."
"Then all right, I'll come over," she says, getting to her feet now that her legs are not so uncomfortably leaden. "Is it a long drive?"
He pulls a phone out of his pocket and dials.
"Hi, Mom! I'm fine!" is how he opens the conversation.
Shortly afterward, "No, I swear. Cross my heart." A slight pause. "Uh-huh. Listen, is Theo out the door yet?" Another, longer pause. "Yeah, no, you got it. I've got a friend coming over who has a car, so—" He cuts himself off, cocks his head, and glances at Bella. "Mind if I tell my mom your name?"
"Mother, I swear before God she is not my girlfriend," he says, half-laughing. "Trust me on this. No. Don't even—no. Okay?" A beat. "Okay. Good. Thank you. See you in a bit." ...He rolls his eyes. "Yes, I will call you if I forget the directions to my own house. Goodbye, Mother."
After one last pause presumably containing a corresponding farewell, he hangs up.
"You have interesting conversations with your mother," Bella says. "I take it I'm driving you there?"
"Yep," he says. "That okay? We could also walk, but that might take a while, and y'know. Your car."
"Yes, my car." Bella heads for the door. "I'm sort of curious why you had to so vehemently deny girlfriendhood. If I'd said 'by all means let us elope' a moment ago what would you have told her?"
"That you were my fiancee," cheerfully.